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Deep freeze

As we pull out of our deepest freeze in recent winters, it’s worth taking note of how well we battled the cold, snow, wind, and, in some cases, cabin fever.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. People rose to the occasion, and exhibited common sense, something that doesn’t always emerge when the going gets tough.
Keep in mind, just two weeks ago we faced another severe flood, this one on the verge of Christmas. Some may have still been cleaning up when the snow started flying again Sunday afternoon.
Fortunately, most of us paid heed to weather forecasts, and did the prudent thing by going to the grocery and stocking up for the worst. It was chaotic in the checkout lines, but, in hindsight, it was worth it.
People don’t always do a good job when it comes to following directions. But this time, most did. For two days, most didn’t make it out their front door. One look out the window, of course, was enough to convince most people to stay home after the storm hit and the temperatures dropped.
If that wasn’t enough to convince people to stay put, Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman provided more when officials declared a Level 3 road emergency Monday.
A Level 3 is the most severe warning and is reserved for the worst conditions. Certainly, Monday and Tuesday constituted the worst.
Heldman takes Level 3 calls seriously, since it means no unnecessary travel which, in effect, shuts down the county.
The last time one was put in place was in January 2012, and then only for a short period of time.
Heldman’s call resulted in the usual second-guessing, but proved effective in keeping people safe. Though it may cost some businesses dearly, and will likely force some schools to stay open well into June, the Level 3 call was the right one.
On Monday and Tuesday, streets resembled a skating rink. There was little sign of life, with the exception of an occasional snowplow. About the only things moving on Interstate 75, U.S. 68 and other major routes were semis, and for once they were traveling well under the speed limit.
All roads were a sheet of ice. In rural areas, snowdrifts made driving treacherous. While some ended up in ditches, it was clear most took the Level 3 designation seriously and stayed home.
For 48 hours, it was too cold for state road crews to do much more than push snow to keep roads open in case there was an emergency.
But there was a lot of snow to push, and their work will continue until the pavement is visible again. Our hat is off to everyone who drove a snowplow this week.
There are likely many stories of neighbors helping neighbors and strangers helping strangers this week. It might have been someone helping dig someone out of a ditch, checking on an elderly relative, or providing warmth to a stranded motorist (see today’s Readers’ Views).
After a week like this one, people may wonder why they live in such a harsh environment. But much has happened since Sunday to provide reasons why so many people stay in northwestern Ohio.
Once again we’ve proven we’re survivors, and willing to help each other when the need arises.
The overall response to this major weather event is a testament to the strength and will of the people who live here.
Let’s hope we don’t have to endure another week like this one, at least anytime soon. But if one shows up, at least we know we can handle it.

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